24-Hour Room Service: W Hollywood Hotel & Residences, 6250 Hollywood Boulevard, California

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The Independent Travel

My delight that my cab driver had previously been to the new W Hollywood – and therefore knew exactly where to drop me off – quickly turned to disappointment when he pulled to a halt and muttered vaguely, "It's over there". I promptly walked right past it. You would imagine that a 15-storey behemoth on one of the most iconic intersections in the world would be hard to miss, but the hotel's Hollywood Boulevard entrance is set well back from the road, half-concealed by the Hollywood and Vine metro stop.

When I casually mentioned my mishap to the check-in staff, they were shocked. This less-than-stellar introduction to the hotel was, it seems, unacceptable. Guests should be made to feel like stars from the moment they arrive. They've even laid out a red carpet at both the front and back entrances to help.

Hollywood may be a byword for glamour, but in recent years it had become shabby, neglected and occasionally dangerous at night – more synonymous with decay than decadence.

Less than six weeks after its highly anticipated opening, the W is already helping bring back a palpable buzz to the area, as part of the new $600m (£400m) Hollywood and Vine retail and residential complex. Of course, you'd expect no less from a hotel chain that has its own fashion director, holds talent shows to hire staff, and shells out a cool $350m on a property during the biggest recession in generations.

Design fans will love this place from the moment they step inside. The reception area leads to the vast Living Room, with a dramatic corkscrew-shaped chandelier and sweeping staircase at the far end. To the left is a small bar; to the right, Station Hollywood, an al fresco lounge with – naturally – a huge drop-down cinema screen.

The hotel's environmental credentials aren't bad, either: the proximity of the Metro line in a city where everyone drives is a positive (although many guests are unlikely to arrive that way), while the recycling bins in the rooms are a small yet significant touch. And, with 305 rooms, 143 sleekly designed "residences", a 375-unit apartment block and 20,000 sq ft of retail space, it is the largest building in Southern California to register for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.


Set just off Hollywood Boulevard, there's plenty in the area for sightseers and culture vultures, including the eastern stretch of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and, opposite the hotel, the art deco Pantages Theatre. About a mile west are Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Kodak Theatre, where the red carpets are also in place for tomorrow's Oscars ceremony.


This being a member of the slick, global W chain, even the most basic room is labelled "Wonderful". And though those are fine, it's worth spending more for more interesting views and/or more space.

The décor and amenities in all the categories are virtually identical, from the bejewelled peepholes on the door and the marble bathrooms with walk-in showers, to the Egyptian cotton sheets and goose-down duvets on the low-lying comfy beds.

My "Marvelous" suite was as big as my flat, though my flat doesn't have views of the domed Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign. It's the kind of room where you expect to walk in on Brad Pitt and George Clooney sipping Scotch and planning their next heist. Sadly, I didn't.

For food and drink, Drai's Hollywood steakhouse and nightclub is on the roof, while the Delphine, with its beautiful, Riviera-inspired décor, is the showcase restaurant on the ground floor.

Unfortunately, the cuisine failed to match the French-Mediterranean surrounds. Dinner for two of steak frites and fish and chips was underwhelming and, at $93 including two glasses of wine, overpriced. Thankfully, there were tastier (and cheaper) tapas-style nibbles at the Living Room bar.

For sheer relaxation – and more sweeping vistas – head to the rooftop pool deck or book a treatment at the onsite Bliss spa. That's if you can reach it by phone: I was somehow put through to Madame Tussauds.... Still, at least it was the Hollywood branch.

The verdict? Despite a lacklustre meal, the W impresses. But don't take my word for it. In LA, a hotel is only as good as its last celebrity bash. Just days after it opened, the W was the location for several post-Grammy parties. And tomorrow Ryan Seacrest will host his post-Oscars shindig on the roof deck. Let's hope the A-listers can find it.

W Hollywood Hotel & Residences, 6250 Hollywood Boulevard, California, US (001 323 798 1300; whotels.com/hollywood )

Rooms 5 stars
Value 4 stars
Service 4 stars

Doubles from $219 (£146), room only.